“I got 36 expressions, sweet as pie and tough and leather, and that’s six expressions more than all those Barrymores put together” begins the I Want song whirling around my head, I’m The Greatest Star. It’s my fantasy cover letter - no warbles about my instinct for a scoop, my love of teamwork or my multimedia skills, but rather a hyperlinked “just listen to this” because it says everything.
Part of me thinks doing so would be a winning formula. People are always talking about trying to make yourself stand out and it is very unorthodox. Our attention spans are getting less and less, especially so now. Everyone is frazzled. It’s 2021, time to cut the shit. Get to the point; details schmetails and all that.
If you have not already, I seriously recommend you watch 1968’s Funny Girl. Much is great about it; the costumes are inescapably 60s despite the setting being at least 50 years previous, the dysfunctional relationship between Fanny Brice and Nick Arnstein and most notably, the sheer desperation of Fanny Brice, one I am currently matching and find aptly captured by I’m The Greatest Star, one young woman’s plea to an overworked, oversubscribed industry.
Before you get too het up, I know I am not the world’s greatest star. There’s no need to put me in my place; we all know that it is Barbra herself, but the song, like all good starting musical numbers, outlines a mood, an ambition, an aura.
Howard Ashman, the lyricist behind many of the Disney Renaissance movies, such as The Little Mermaid and Beauty & The Beast said that the point of these songs was so “the audience falls in love with her and then roots for her to get it for the rest of the night.” Basically, like all musical scores (and music in general, I guess?) it seeks to manipulate, so yes it is designed to conjure up these images within yourself, reminding you of tapping the table, and being like “HELLO, NOTICE ME.”, which makes it a powerful, but apt force.
This is because what separates the successful from the able - acknowledgement. Often getting your foot in the door is key. Now more than ever it requires a healthy dose of delusion. In this current climate, dripping yourself in it is the solution. Fanny Brice would be nothing without it, and therefore neither will I.
“Instead of just kicking me why don’t they give me a lift?” is something I ask myself about 100 times a day. “It must be a plot because they are scared that I got such a gift” is the answer we both share. The plot is a pandemic, recession and general malaise but none of this quashes an ambition; THAT IS NOT HOW IT WORKS. Believe you me, I’ve tried. A coronavirus cannot stop your inner ingenue from throwing tantrums and sometimes the odd pity party. She will not be silenced. Sometimes, it feels like a sickness, but there seems to be no cure. Trust me, I’ve sought one out with no luck. I am who I am, and to be honest, there are worse attributes.
Despite this acceptance, circumstances, namely, the inability to waltz into a metaphorical rehearsal room and plead my case, are maddening to me. Let me yell “I’M A BAGEL ON A PLATE OF ONION ROLLS” at someone! Please, I’m melting! Also, what is an onion roll?
How I long to charm myself onto to Mr Ziegfeld’s Follies, or at least try! Judging by the internet, a terrible but unavoidable thing to do, people are having their moments, and you know what, good for them, they probably deserve it but “I'm a natural Camille as Camille I just feel I've so much to offer”
My only real obstacle, just like Fanny’s is that I need someone else to realise this. It's absolutely torturous to not be able to tell this to someone, someone who can do something. To be bursting at the seams and I’ve got no outlet for it? I am “blowing my horn until someone blows in” because its the only thing I can do right now.
Again, there is solace that I’m not alone in this, keeping perspective is a lifeline. No one is particularly shiny at the moment, and in the least bitchy way, that is comforting, but I ain't getting any younger.
Perhaps impatience is my biggest downfall. Perhaps my panic will be unwarranted, and this festering will benefit me. To future predict is a waste of time. To a certain extent what happens, happens. It’s gauging what control you have is the maddening bit. We plan but nothing is actually able to be controlled. Look at the situation we are in now! The uncertainty weighs and while it feels horrible, and for good reason, it might not be that bad. Who knows.
God, this thought process is really Monday’s problem. I really ought to be watching RuPaul’s Drag Race than worrying about all of this, but anxious thoughts wait for no appropriate time. They're here, and for that Babs is really performing overtime for me. Like all good drama queens, this movie is a comfort classic. It was the only thing to soothe me after the announcement of the second lockdown - not that it led to any practical changes to my day to day living but ya know symbolic gestures of the UK government’s failing response to a pandemic is ALWAYS depressing!
Oh, how I long to attempt to make myself a presence again, a source of energy you just cannot ignore, being all “hey Mr Keeney, here I am” with that legendary mezzo-soprano energy.
I’ll know no peace like it.
Authors note -
In the spirit of Ms Brice, if you use express your adoration of her than Twitter is where you can find her because she is an addict